400,000 malnourished children under five could die in 2018 in the Kasai region of the DR Congo – UNICEF

In this photo taken on Monday, June 20, 2016, Rachel Wanimigabo, three, rests on a sign reading "respect the grass" at the En Avant Les Enfants INUKA center in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. Rachel's mother died giving birth to her youngest brother in April 2016. Her father disappeared. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)
At least 400,000 children under five suffer from severe acute malnutrition and could die in 2018 if they are not assisted by health and nutrition interventions in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo, DRC), said Tuesday in Kinshasa the representative of UNICEF.

In his statement, the representative of the UN Office for Children in the DR Congo said that this disastrous situation was largely caused by violence, massive displacement and the reduction of agricultural production in the last 18 months.

“This nutritional crisis and food insecurity in the Kasai region are the result of the displacement of thousands of families who have survived for months in very difficult conditions,” said UNICEF’s acting representative, UNICEF Representative for UNICEF Dr Tajudeen Oyewale. DRC, adding that “the real scale of the problem is becoming clearer as people return home to some areas where security has improved and health services have begun to work again”.

The violence and displacement of 1.4 million people in the Kasai region led to food shortages, with two-thirds of households unable to work on their land to cultivate.

“Severe food insecurity is now affecting large parts of the region, and conditions are not expected to improve until June 2018, as the planting seasons in 2017 have been lost, and families have not been able to harvest crops. their land and they have nothing to sell on the markets, “the statement added.

Health facilities have also been devastated, making it harder to treat and care for severely malnourished children. About 220 health centers were destroyed, looted or damaged, leading to a weakening of the health system, reduced access to health care and an increased risk of spreading communicable diseases such as measles.

According to Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale, since January 2017, UNICEF and its partners have provided therapeutic nutritional care to 50,700 severely malnourished children aged between 6 and 59 months in the Kasai region. However, the United Nations Children’s Fund received only 15 per cent of the funding needed to meet the nutritional needs of children in 2017.

The Kasai region remained glowing for several months, with violence between security forces and supporters of the traditional leader Kamuina Nsapu, killed last August by the police.

According to the Catholic Church, more than 3,300 people were killed in the violence in Kasai, including two UN experts who were investigating the area. The UN also counted nearly 33,000 refugees in neighboring countries, including Angola and Zambia.